Prominent Pakistani philanthropist Abdul Sattar Edhi was buried on the outskirts of Karachi yesterday after a state funeral attended by thousands of people.
Edhi, 88, died late on Friday after a long kidney illness, triggering an outpouring of grief for a man who transcended social, ethnic and religious divisions.
At one moment during the country’s first state funeral since the 1980s, a crowd broke through military lines at Karachi’s National Stadium to help carry Edhi’s coffin, which was draped with Pakistan’s green and white flag and covered with rose petals.
Over nearly 60 years Edhi’s charitable arm, the Edhi Foundation, established clinics and orphanages across Pakistan and ran a vast fleet of ambulances, offering help to poor communities failed by inadequate public health and welfare services.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said Pakistan had lost “a great servant of humanity” and announced yesterday as a national day of mourning.
Many others took to social media to grieve over the loss of a
man they called “Angel of Mercy”.
“Edhi worked for the downtrodden all his life. Attending his funeral is the least we could do to pay our tributes,” shopkeeper Siraj Ahmed, 34, said outside the stadium where the army fired a 19-gun salute to mark Edhi’s death.
The foreign minister of India said Edhi “was a noble soul who dedicated his life in service of mankind”, while Pakistani teenage Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai told the BBC she had nominated him for the same Peace prize.
Born in Gujarat in British India, Edhi and his Muslim family moved to Pakistan in 1947 during the violent partition of the subcontinent.
He built up his charity solely through donations, focusing on addicts, battered women, orphans and the disabled.
Renowned for an ascetic lifestyle and recognised by his long white beard and traditional black cap, Edhi was a hero to the poor.
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